"All you have to do is catch the ball" U14s Coach Kevin Walker

My usual match reports try to pick some humour from the game or the way the lads have performed. In truth the lads were up against a very good and physical Rochdale side, we were fairly poor and a shadow of the side that outplayed Sedgley a couple of weeks back.

There is little to say about the performance and so I have therefore dedicated most of this match report to provide the story behind the minutes applause that preceded kick off.

Back in early December 2014, Iain Coates, Rochdale RUFC Chairman, wrote to all members to tell the following:

To lead any organisation sometimes has its difficulties and sadly as Chairman of Rochdale RUFC this is one of mine.

Tom Thornton grew up in the family of Rugby here at Rochdale.  His father Kevin is a former 1st Team Captain and Tom progressed right through the Minis and Juniors to represent our club at senior level.  He is a mid-twenty year old lad living with his partner Chantelle and together they are expecting their first child in January.

However tragedy has struck.  Tom has cancer of the bowel, liver and into his abdominal wall which means it is inoperable and the only treatment is palliative.

Tom and Chantelle are getting married on the 20th December and both families have pulled out all the stops to make this happen.

In the short term we have agreed that our club will endeavour, using all the methods we can, to ensure Tom and Chantelle get the most out of every minute and we will try to remove as much peripheral stresses as we can.

 Following on from this it is our intention to set up a Foundation/Trust and I will be contacting all members with the details of this and any events to be held moving forward.

 Following this message, a committee was formed to evaluate both financial and non-financial ways in which Tom’s many friends within RRUFC could help Tom, Chantelle and their soon to be born baby. This resulted in the last 10 days in the ‘Tom Thornton Trust 2015’ being established with 8 trustees appointed. All legal formalities have been gone through and a bank account will be up and running in the next few days.

As mentioned above, Tom & Chantelle were married on 20th December 2015 and on 6th January, their son, Maxwell Joseph was born. A picture of the 3 of them, taken shortly after Maxwell was born, follows at the bottom of this message.

Tragically, last Wednesday 28th January 2015, Tom Thornton passed away and now is the time for us to do all that we can. We at RRUFC struggle to find the words to adequately express our feelings, but thankfully his wife, Chantelle, has helped us with the following that she posted on social media :

“There are absolutely no words to describe the pain, emptiness and heartbreak I feel right now. With time to grieve I only pray it gets easier. It’s now time for me to cry, remember all our special memories and then be as strong as Tom was for our baby boy Maxwell who he was so, so proud of and loved more than words can describe.”

RIP Tom Thornton

The Match…

The match itself wasn’t great. Rochdale opened the scoring early on with a try in the corner. Eccles drew level following a crisp move that started with Dan taking a tap penalty, driving at the Rochdale lines before releasing the ball to Brad , Joe and eventually to Rob who used his tremendous pace to run wide of the Rochdale defence and score Eccles opening & only try.

There is never a good time to concede a try but in the 1st half we conceded tries immediately after we scored and immediately after Rochdale were reduced to 14 men with the last play of the half. A bit more concentration from the lads may have prevented these two tries

Eccles improved in the second half, fighting for every ball and demonstrating some good spirit in attack and defence. But despite the endeavour and effort of the Eccles lads, Rochdale came out on top with two converted tries.

Some other key moments included:

Alex T damaged his chances of representing England on the PS4 or Xbox by breaking his thumb in the ruck – get well soon Alex

Josh and Matthew W reminded everyone that they both have a fine collection of ladies luggage

Rochdale U14s received their 1st ever yellow card after one of their players tried to kick Joe – to be fair I’m probably overdue a few yellow cards too

Matthew W chalked up 3 points for a penalty with the last kick of the game. 60% increase on our points tally last time we visited Rochdale. (clutching at statistical straws)

We have Sefton RUFC next who we lost heavily to earlier in the season. Sefton are a strong side who haven’t been beaten too often this season, nor have they conceded many points. However Sefton narrowly lost earlier this month and if we play as we know we can do we’re a match for most sides. Come on Eccles!!

Eccles U14 Vital Statistics

Todays Eccles Squad

Chea C, Daniel A, Joshua G, Alex H, Elliott H, Lewis K, Brad P, Joe R, Max R, David S, Robert S, Alex T, Albert T, Matthew W, Jack W, James W, Oliver W

Half Time Score 26 – 5

Full Time Score 38 – 8

Eccles Men of the Match

Players Choice – Albert

Coach Choice – Josh

Parents Choice – Albert

Eccles Scorers

Try – Robert

Penalty – Matthew W

Notable Mentions

Coach Kevin Walker “All you have to do is catch the ball”

Rochdale coach “we’d have preferred to have lost today, better chance of winning the vase”

Although we’re out of the Plate competition, we are still in the Vase competition so not all is lost

Naughty Step

All the lads should be on the step this week for a performance that isn’t a reflection of how hard they have been training or how well they have been playing. All that backslapping needs to be saved for better performances.

James W for changing the colour of his skullcap – at least its not black like Olivers

My L5 disc which left me walking like a robot and unable to get in my car after the game